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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 6335-6375, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
03 Apr 2013
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). A final paper in BG is not foreseen.
Altered phenology and temperature sensitivity of invasive annual grasses and forbs changes autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration rates in a semi-arid shrub community
M. Mauritz and D. L. Lipson
San Diego State University, Department of Biology, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-4614, USA

Abstract. Many invasions, like the wide-spread establishment of annual grasses and forbs in semi-arid shrublands, are associated with climate change. In order to predict ecosystem carbon (C) storage it is critical that we understand how invasion affects soil respiration (Rt). Because plants and microbes have different seasonal dynamics, determining the relative contribution of autotrophic (Ra) and heterotrophic (Rh) respiration provides critical insight into soil C processes. Using automated soil respiration measurements and root exclusion cores we evaluated the moisture and temperature sensitivity of Rt and Rh and calculated the contribution of Ra in native shrub and invaded areas.

Invasion increased cumulative Rt by 40% from 695 (±51) g C m−2 under shrubs to 1050 g C m−2 (±44) in invaded areas. Cumulative Rh did not change but invasion altered the seasonal pattern of Rh. Throughout the season Rt and Rh responded positively to temperature increases when soils were wet and negatively when soils were dry. Invasion increased temperature sensitivity of Rt and Rh in wet soils and decreased temperature sensitivity in dry soils. The altered temperature sensitivity of invasives was attributed largely to differences in phenology. Early phenology of invasive grasses caused rapid Ra increases early in the season; late phenology of invasive forbs resulted in the surprising maintenance of diurnal Ra and Rh signals despite high temperatures and low soil moisture.

Invasion extended the respiration season of the system. Ability of the invasive community to withstand high temperatures and drought could confer greater resilience if temperature and precipitation patterns in the region change. The high contribution of Ra by invasive annuals means ecosystem C storage will depend heavily on seasonal rainfall dynamics and productivity of invasive annuals. In semi-arid ecosystems even small scale changes in plant community composition alter Rt, Ra and Rh and should be considered when attempting to predict Rt.

Citation: Mauritz, M. and Lipson, D. L.: Altered phenology and temperature sensitivity of invasive annual grasses and forbs changes autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration rates in a semi-arid shrub community, Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 6335-6375, doi:10.5194/bgd-10-6335-2013, 2013.
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